Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important conservation tool. For marine predators, recent research has focused on the use of Species Distribution Models (SDMs) to identify proposed sites. We used a maximum entropy modelling approach based on static and dynamic oceanographic parameters to determine optimal feeding habitat for black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at two colonies during two consecutive breeding seasons (2009 and 2010). A combination of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) loggers and Time-Depth Recorders (TDRs) attributed feeding activity to specific locations. Feeding areas were <30 km from the colony, <40 km from land, in productive waters, 25–175m deep. The predicted extent of optimal habitat declined at both colonies between 2009 and 2010 coincident with declines in reproductive success. Whilst the area of predicted optimal habitat changed, its location was spatially stable between years. There was a close match between observed feeding locations and habitat predicted as optimal at one colony (Lambay Island, Republic of Ireland), but a notable mismatch at the other (Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland). Designation of an MPA at Rathlin may, therefore, be less effective than a similar designation at Lambay perhaps due to the inherent variability in currents and sea state in the North Channel compared to the comparatively stable conditions in the central Irish Sea. Current strategies for designating MPAs do not accommodate likely future redistribution of resources due to climate change. We advocate the development of new approaches including dynamic MPAs that track changes in optimal habitat and non-colony specific ecosystem management.
- GPS loggers
- Optimal habitat
- species distribution modeling
- Time-depth recorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation